Questions remain as CDC pushes for Coronavirus antibody tests


BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33/FOX 44) – There are still many questions about the Coronavirus, but some want to know if antibody tests will show who can fight it.

Numbers Tuesday show 1,013 Coronavirus deaths in Louisiana. What they don’t show is the number of survivors. Some say immunity serology tests could be the key.

“The serology tests are different from the regular viral screening that we’re doing. The viral screening that’s being done right now in the hospitals and the clinics is a direct test for the virus. It’s a culture if you would, but the serology is a blood test to see if you mounted an anti-body response to the viral infection,” said Dr. Ralph Dauterive, Vice President of Medical Affairs with Ochsner Baton Rouge.

Dr. Dauterive said it’s not a direct test to see if the virus is in your body, but an indirect test of your body’s response to the virus. It’s a finger-stick test and not a swab. It determines what your body has already done or not done. Dr. Charles Miranda in Denver has used the test on about 50 of his patients.

“I found the test to be very reliable and because of that I feel very comfortable rolling it out to my patients, giving it to my patients because I know I’m gonna make decisions based on the results of these tests,” said Dr. Miranda.

The FDA recently allowed companies to skip the normal approval process. The head of the CDC says the tests need to be in place ahead of a possible second wave of the Coronavirus this fall. We could see them in our area in the next two weeks, but there are still some unknowns.

“What we don’t know is if that will protect you from future infections or future exposure to the virus,” Dr. Dauterive explained.

Dr. Dauterive said the tests are still unreliable because there are several Coronaviruses and it’s unknown if it will test specifically for COVID-19.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be the vaccine that really controls this because the way this virus hurts people and how sick they become from it, waiting around for the entire population to develop enough immunity so we can start mingling again, that could take a long time,” Dr. Dauterive added.

Healthcare workers are expected to get antibody testing first, followed by those who are high risk. The other concern is there may not be enough tests for everyone.

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